When House of Cards Went Off the Rails

So, as I was saying, House of Cards was—prior to Kevin Spacey’s deletion—about a Machiavellian politician and his perhaps even more cynical wife, Claire, and their naked pursuit of power. The Underwoods murdered people. They blackmailed and slandered people not with reckless abandon, but with cold, methodical premeditation and preparation. 

And then, in the 32nd episode of the series, the writers threw it all the way so Claire could take a moral stand on behalf of gay rights—in Russia.  The details don’t matter much (I had to look them up because I forgot many of them). In short, the Underwoods had a secret deal with the Putin-style Russian president, but Claire blew it up by publicly honoring the dignity of gay activist who hanged himself in a Russian prison. As a result, Claire cost her husband the presidency and maybe a Nobel Peace Prize for brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace feal. 

Now, I have no problem with the producers of House of Cards wanting to highlight Russia’s anti-gay laws. It’s their show, and Russia’s anti-gay laws are, in fact, bad. But this was just horrible writing in the service of ideological corruption. 

It was reminiscent of how knee-jerk anti-Bush sentiment poisoned a lot of popular culture a decade earlier. In Revenge of the Sith, to cite just one example, Anakin Skywalker, fast on his way to becoming Darth Vader, yells at a young Obi Wan Kenobi, “Either you are with me or you are my enemy!” 

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